Posted By Buck on November 9, 2016
I intended to arrive in the mid-afternoon on Thursday, but then we scheduled an interview for a potential hire late Thursday afternoon. I still thought I might make it in time to run a Fate of Battle game for the HAWKs Thursday evening, but events conspired against me. When I arrived, I was still angry and needed to calm down before gaming. Instead of minis we tried a new card game I bought, called Smash Up. We may have been doing some things wrong, but I think we were starting to get the hang of it toward the end. Greg brought some Scotch that his had donated to the HAWKs, called Monkey Shoulder, and that helped smooth over the rough edges of our knowledge of the game rules.
Greg and I had the full breakfast at the Continental before heading over the host. Friday morning I found that the new Host ownership had an odd way of managing the key to the Paradise room, but eventually we go the door unlocked. Eric and I were running the same scenario, Heilsburg, 1809, on the same table. My game was first, Friday morning, using Fate of Battle, and Eric’s was later using modified Regimental Fire and Fury. Eric set up all the terrain for both games, which made my prep for the game much easier. I was surprised that the game was full and that everyone who signed up showed up for a 0900 game on Friday. The game went quite well. All the players were engaged early and had a good time. The Russian cavalry under the command of someone new to Fate of Battle ground forward against the French cavalry commanded by a guy named Jeff who plays a lot of LSNC. Initially the Russian left, commanded by HAWKs room regular, Donald, chose to advance, but when two of three Russian brigades retreated, the French went on the attack. The Retreating Russians recovered and returned to the fight in time to stop the French attack. Though the Russians were beginning to drive the French out of the town, the arrival of the “fresh” Russian infantry made the outcome an inevitable Russian victory.
I spent some time in the flea market and dealer hall on Friday afternoon. The big find for me was a batch of 1:50(ish) scale WWII tanks. Greg also found a loose figure in a bin that will be painted as Peggy Carter before my next pulp-era game. I had asked Battlefield Terrain Concepts to bring additional hedgerow, and I purchased more of that. Otherwise, I spent a bunch of time kibitzing and wandering around.
I set up my Poland 1939 armored train game for Friday night and helped Greg set up his Star Wars game — both using Combat Patrol. I was surprised that my Friday morning game filled, and I was just as surprised that my Saturday night game had not a single player attend. Was it in the PEL? I think it was.
Anyway, that gave me a chance to play in Kurt’s A Union So Tested game. I didn’t know the scenario, so I volunteered to let the new player command the Union force that I thought would see most of the action. Then three of us entered the table on the Union flank. This was as much of a surprise to me as it was to the Union commanders. The game played really well, with the Yanks doing a good job of slowing the Reb advance toward the key crossroads. The Yanks held a forward salient too long, which didn’t allow them to lengthen their left flank, so I was pushing around it when time ran out, and Kurt called the game a Union victory.
After a little kibitzing and setting up for Saturday morning, Greg, Dave, and I headed back to the Continental to watch a few episodes of Tom Baker Doctor Who with Leela before hitting the sack.
Saturday morning, Dave and I went for a 3.5 mile run, and then the three of us had breakfast at the Continental again. My Saturday morning Polish armored train game was overly full, so some of the standby HAWKs weren’t able to play. The German objective was to capture the train to move it off the road, not to destroy it. There is notionally a large German formation coming down the road, and the force in the scenario was the advance guard sent to clear the route. We had a good mix of experienced Combat Patrol players and newbies. Duncan took the one German squad on the table that didn’t have a vehicle, and for several turns he was the only visible enemy to many of the Polish defenders, so he received a lot of “love.” On the German right, their two Pz. 38(t)s and two vehicle-mounted infantry squads tried to push around the Poles, but found the Polish defenders tough to dislodge. The Poles did a pretty good job using their mortar to inflict some damage on the Germans. Fortunately for the German tanks, the Poles had positioned their anti-tank gun on the other side of the table. This is where the Germans tried to slip two halftracks full of infantry around the Polish right. The anti-tank gun knocked out one of the halftracks, but the other slipped past. The squad in the disabled halftrack dismounted and got involved in a long, unproductive firefight with a Polish squad in some nearby woods. Half of this German squad failed morale and ran off the table. The halftrack that got around the Polish defenses got to the train. The artillery in the turret turned to knock out the halftrack, so one of Kurt’s tanks fired at it — getting the word result possible. Recall that the Germans needed to be able to move the train off the road, but Kurt hit the undercarriage of the train car straddling the road, penetrated, and brewed up the car. This would have made it hard to move the train later. The Germans got infantry into the cab of the train, so I called the game a German victory. I was gratified at how many of the folks who had never played Combat Patrol seemed to pick it up easily and were largely self-sufficient after a couple of turns.
Again, I had a few hours to wander the flea market and dealer hall, but there wasn’t a lot of time between my Polish game and when we planned to being setting up our Saturday evening game, so mostly I sat around and kibitzed.
Dave, Chris, and I ran the battle of Lvov Saturday evening. This is a large game that we’ve run several times, including for the 114th Signal Battalion for one of their Senior Leader Development events. The scenario is somewhat what-if in nature, as it involves the Russians and Germans conducting a coordinated attack on the town of Zboiska on the outskirts of Lvov. While the Germans and Russians were both nearby, there was no simultaneous attack historically. In addition to defending Zboiska, the Poles were also ordered to capture a nearby ridgeline and knock out the artillery that was shelling Lvov. Duncan and a father-son team launched three infantry battalions up Graff-break Ridge. They took very heavy casualties, almost two and a half battalions. Duncan let the newbies get decimated while he advanced put he ridge against an beat-up defender, but he was still unable to knock out the guns before the game ended. (By the way, the players were having such a good time that we played an extra hour!) Dave and a newbie to LSNC played the Germans and crashed into Duncan’s cavalry screen, wiping out four of five companies by the end of the game. Dave’s panzergrenadiers got bogged down trying to root Duncan out of his second line of defense, but the newbie, a guy named Hutch, got some of his infantry into the town. On the other end of the table, Mike and Chris were the Russians trying to bypass Kurt and roll over Donald to seize the town. Donald’s light Polish tank battalion was no match for Mike’s wall of steel. While Mike killed every single Polish vehicle on the table, Chris pushed a few stands of infantry into Zobiska. The victory conditions were based on the number of full (undamaged) bases in the town as well as the status of the ridgeline. In the end, the Poles received two victory points, but the Russians and Germans didn’t receive any. So after a hard-fought defense, the Poles eeked out a victory. I think this might have been the most interesting iteration of Lvov we have run. I was a little disappointed that we only had four non-HAWKs for a 12-player game, but all the non-HAWKs seemed to have an excellent time, and I think the HAWKs had fun as well. It certainly made being a GM pretty easy.
I had bid $60 for a batch of painted WWII Americans in the Toys for Tots auction. As I have picked up WWII figures here and there I find that I am short of plain riflemen and have too many submachine guns. I thought this was a silent auction and that I had won the bid, but when I went to go claim the figures and pay I was dismayed that my winning silent bid was merely the starting bid for another traditional auction. I guess I don’t understand the purpose of the silent auction. I was disappointed at the way it played out. There was a guy in the crowd who seemed to snipe at most winning bids with an extra five dollars. I guess it’s for a good cause, but I won’t be doing the auction again.
Sunday morning Dave and I went for another run before breakfast at the Continental. I normally run a chariot race game on Sunday mornings, but I hadn’t planned to run a Sunday game this year. I hit the flea market again. I rarely find anything of interest on Sunday, but this time was different. In the flea market I found two of the Litko buildings I use in Granville, my pulp-era town. They were already assembled and nicely painted for less than the unassembled kits. Did I need two more buildings? No, but what the heck?! I wandered around the dealer hall, picking up some stuff from terrain bits Scenic Express and chatting with folks in the aisles. By the time I returned to the HAWKs room, all three HAWKs-run games were well underway, so I just spent time talking to Mike and watching the three games.
After Eric and Dave cleaned up the HAWKs stragglers went to Brooklyn pizza for a nice lunch before the long drive home. All in all, this was a good con for me.